I appeared in court yesterday of counsel in Judge Richard Braun's courtroom in Supreme New York County for a simple preliminary conference. For those who do not practice law in New York, at a preliminary conference, the parties set a basic discovery schedule. Most lawyers believe that this conference is completely bogus. If the court system would like to save resources, they should set a scheduling system by computer because the time line is nearly always the same.
The matter before the court was a subrogation claim where the insurance company that I was representing was suing for approximately $200,000 in damages to recover payment to its insured due to a gas leak. In Kings, Bronx and Queens County, these conference are held before a clerk and the parties simply check in with the clerk when they are ready to proceed. Most conferences are held at 9:30. The parties can agree before hand to appear any time before 11 a.m. If, for some reason, a party is not in the courtroom before 10:30 you are simply told to contact your advesary. This system appears to work because it allows attorney's to cover more than 1 case in a courthouse. For solo's, this system is necessary because they cannot be in two places at once.
Judge Braun on the other hand does not appear to understand the plight of solo's (even though he was one). Yesterday, I was late by ten minutes because I was delayed by a clerk in the Court of Claims who appeared at 10:15 for a 9:30 conference. When I arrived, at Judge's Braun's part, I was told that he dismissed the case because I arrived at 10:40 for a 10:30 conference. Incidentely, two of the defendants were missing. Thereafter, Judge Braun, called the parties before the court and asked the parties if they would be willing to consent to vacate the default. Thankfully, all parties agreed. Thereafter, we conferenced the case before one of the judges clerks. All parties agreed on the particulars of the conference. The clerk then asked me for a demand (the amount of money that my client was willing to settle for). None of the defendants have offered a penny. I stated that our demand was specific and was based on how much the insurance company paid to its insured for each item. I told the clerk that it was our intention that the insurance company be made whole for its loss. Additionally, I stated that we were willing to negotiate, however, it would be on an item basis (i.e., if they did not agree on the price of a damaged desk, we may lower the amount). The clerk then stated that the judge wanted an automatic lowering of our demand and that we would be punished by a delay in the case if we did not do so. I held my ground. However, it appears that Judge Braun did not delay the case.
Anyway, my suggestion to Judge Braun is to be more liberal and allow solo's to check in with the clerk on conferences. Additionally, the court should not dictate an arbitrary settlement demand.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Monday, March 28, 2005
Friday, March 25, 2005
Although it is not the custom of this blog to list large awards because they are frequently misused by proponents of tort reform, here is a list from the New York Law Journal of New York's Highest Awards for 2004.
Is the random poisoning of a large number of people, if it is a side-effect of the deforestation of a battleground, a crime against humanity? more...>
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Friday, March 18, 2005
Thursday, March 17, 2005
The New York Daily News reports today that JP Morgan Chase and North Fork banks will close "money service" accounts by the end of the month. These accounts are used to send funds from the US to other nations. The move will likely hurt millions in other nations who are dependent on US immigrants sending funds abroad for basic needs. more...>
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Reforms to US immigration law in the late 1980's and early 1990's- part of a "Free Trade of Ideas" campaign were ment to end the practice of ideological based visa denials. Unfortunately, it appears that the use of an ideological litmus test has been revived. more...>
Monday, March 14, 2005
The New York Post reports on two car accidents today. In one accident, an elderly man, Donald Hennessey, was killed by a hit-and-run driver. In another accident, a 18 year old volunteer firefighter was killed when a speeding car plowed into him.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Malpractice reform is a high priority for President Bush, who contends that juries have run amok, multimillion dollar lawsuits are on the rise and greedy trial lawyers are filing frivolous lawsuits. His solution: cap malpractice awards. His problem: after studying a database maintained by the Texas Department of Insurance that contains all malpractice claims from 1998 to 2002, there is no evidence of a tort crisis. more...>
Monday, March 07, 2005
President Bush has proposed limiting "pain and suffering" damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. Will such a cap actually limit the total amount awarded? more...>